The event we had been looking forward to since last year’s adventure at the Pnei Kedem Kite Festival had finally arrived. All year, we had told anyone who would listen that they simply had to make plans to come this year. We recruited friends from near and far (we planned to go with Heidi and William Daroff and Family who rented a special car and driver for the day just to make it). Last year was the first year of this festival and this year the people of Pnei Kedem (a very small yishuv on the Eastern fringe of Gush Etzion in the middle of the Judean Desert) had put in a lot of effort in publicizing and marketing their event. In fact, it was the featured Gush Etzion festival for this Chol HaMoed. We were not disappointed…the crowds exceeded last year’s with cars parked all along the road that rings the yishuv.
We packed-up the kids in the morning and made the 20 minute drive out to Pnei Kedem. We were met with moon bounces and slides, great music, crafts, arts & crafts for the kids, puppet shows, story time, drum lessons (note Amichai keeping a nice rhythm in the picture) and lots and lots of kites. The most amazing thing about the festival, that we noticed last year as well, is the landscape. Pnei Kedem is made up of about 18 families who live on this mountain top overlooking the Dead Sea. It makes for an amazing kite festival, with over 1000 people pouring in for the fun, and it’s also quite a dramatic place to see. The work these families put into the day is amazing!
For us, the big difference this year is that we felt like we belonged. Last year we bumped into some people we had met, but this year we knew tons of people. Of course, we saw the Frankls and other friends from Neve Daniel, but we also knew people from all over the area and we really felt at home. As we mentioned, our friends William and Heidi Daroff came with their two little daughters. We were impressed with them for coming out to see the festival (and for making so many trips to Israel from Potomac so far this year!) We also bumped into Jeff and Karen Cohen from Potomac (last year, their 8 year old son Mendel hitched a ride with us to the festival, this year most of the Cohen family joined him too!)
On Monday it was time to get ready for Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, which always makes for a fun time. Unfortunately, Josh didn’t feel so great and realized he had strep just before the chag. The antibiotics didn’t have quite enough time to kick in so it was Mommy and the kids going solo for most of the holiday. The new shul was packed with holiday revelers and the building reverberated with spirited song and dance in the evening and again in the morning.
As the month-long holiday season draws to a close there is one more vacation day left before school starts again on Thursday and then it is back to the everyday routine.
PS–Quick Amichai development update…he just started clapping yesterday and continues to improve his ‘furniture cruising’ as he terrorizes the house.